FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Fresno Unified School District and the Fresno Teachers Association appear to still be far apart on contract negotiations, after both sides provided an update on Friday, as the teachers’ strike vote is around the corner on Oct. 18.
Fresno Unified officials Friday morning said they believed they were getting closer to a deal.
“We’ve been active in negotiations every day except yesterday and the weekend working to resolve collaboratively our labor situation. So, we’ve made significant progress,” said Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson.
Fresno Teachers Association President Manuel Bonilla says that’s not the case.
“I would not categorize that as significant progress in the areas that are major core areas to our parents, to our teachers. Class size, salary. Those issues are still left on the table,” he said.
Bonilla says the union and district are still far apart on multiple ‘core issues for success’.
“We need to do something to do something to reduce class sizes, we need to do something to address special education by reducing caseloads, and our teachers need to feel valued, and their salary needs to keep up with inflation,” said Bonilla.
In a new proposal presented by the district Friday, Fresno Unified officials say they’ve met those needs.
They say they’re offering a 19% salary bump to teachers over three years, bonus dollars in the form of stipends for larger class sizes, as they work to lower them, and stipends for special educators.
The proposal also included a new healthcare model the district says would effectively replace the current model.
They say it would cover teachers with 20 years of service for life.
“At age 57 ½, if you have 20 years of service with the district, that you’ll be continued to offer our same active employee plan, at the same active employee premium for you and for your spouse,” said Nelson.
Nelson says when Medicare age is reached, the district will offer a second coverage behind Medicare.
It’s one they say will offer services the government healthcare program does not.
The district has also proposed to fund 100% of coverage costs.
However, Bonilla says the promises aren’t enough.
Although, he says they plan to keep a line of communication open ahead of the deadline.
“Superintendent has my phone number and we’ll be willing to talk anytime anywhere,” he said.
If teachers do vote to strike, district reps have 2,100 certified background-checked substitutes ready to go.